“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
Once, three years ago, my ex-boyfriend Carlos came home after a day of slithering around Manhattan and handed me a book. (Ok. I know I write about him a lot but i’ve been single for three years and i’m still juicing that lemon for as long as I can, Adele wrote like two albums about her horrible ex.) So, I was face down on his couch having a nap because I was twenty-six and my brain was simply exhausted at the tail end of it’s development. He gave me his usual disapproving glare and wiggled the parcel in my face, we were also at the tail-end of our relationship.
“What is that?” I asked, trying to look all hot and disheveled upon waking.
“It might do you some good, I can see that you’re struggling.”
The book was called,
“Twenty-something, Twenty-everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction.”
I noticed a forlorn, dark-haired twenty-something (I assumed) in white pajamas literally walking across a body of water on the cover. Like Jesus. Was the author implying that this crap should be my age bracket’s bible? I hadn’t opened a bible before then and I wasn’t going to start now.
“Why do you think I need this?”
“Because, you seem to have no direction, you told me you feel lost lately and now I come home to you asleep, what have you done for the day? Listen, I know what you’re going through, I went through it too. I want to help you I do, but I think you just have to figure out how on your own.”
“Ok, thanks.” I replied, mentally pushing him into traffic.
Long story short, I never read it—I didn’t want a manual for whatever it was I was going through. Instinctively I wanted my senses to train themselves. This was a marathon, this was growing up and I wasn’t going to let no fucking hipster tell me how. I’ve always wanted that extraordinary life, I was weird and that was challenging growing up in a conservative third-world country. Everyone was trying to mush me into a shape they liked. I thought I’d found a mutual weirdness in Carlos but he seemed to be hacking my form into something linear and more befitting of his comfort level. I felt very alone at that moment and for the first time, really uncertain. Maybe I’d never find my place.
A fear fixed itself to my insides and for awhile I ignored it. I distracted myself with life, love and the pursuit of the career I thought I wanted. I’m going to be an actor and blow the feathers off these city gooses. They’ll all see, I will forcibly be who I am and they’ll love it. I was certain, that certainty was what drove me, what dragged me along from one experience to another even after Carlos tore up my insides. I was hunting for that extraordinary life I so desperately wanted that I was certain I’d have.
Then I was on a plane staring at the tarmac of JFK, thoroughly upset. I had to go home to Trinidad with still no money or job prospects. I wasn’t going to be an actor and the city gooses were fully plumed. Whatever opportunity that showed up, left almost as quickly. I had so many starts and misses my neck hurt from the constant whiplash. I mean, I shared an elevator with Kylo Ren (New Star Wars, Adam Driver) and sat adjacent to him in a room for a hour, plus so many other name dropping anecdotes. Alas I had to give all that up, possibility is harder to leave behind than anything else. As I leaned my forehead against the gross plane window, I made a solid decision then to become an expert at hiding in plain sight, it felt better than the alternative of being present in a shitty situation. Worse still the pain of admitting I failed and had to return to the place I’d been running from since the age of eighteen was ever present and conjured a weight that clung fast to my body. That fear was hard to ignore now.
More than two years have gone by since then and I wish this scenario had a little more ascension or a happy ending but I’m completely terrified of life, still broke, without prospect and not an actor. Now I really want to be a writer. Ha.
I went through some old books I’d brought back from New York the other day. I found “Twenty-Something, Twenty-Everything.” The christ-like figure on the cover with her long, dark hair was still there parting the red sea or whatever, except now she seemed so familiar. I looked at myself in the mirror, my hair had grown long and was dyed black, “like my cold-little heart,” I’d say when asked about it.
Right then, I found a strange kinship with the sad stock-image. Look at us, stuck in a holding pattern of pajamas and crises. I flipped open the never-read book absentmindedly and came upon a section titled, expectation hangover, where the author quotes a twenty-eight year old web-master from Des Moines which was nullifying enough but only got worse when she said,
“An expectation hangover is far worse than a tequila hangover because it lasts much longer than a day, and no amount of aspirin can cure it.”
Obviously this twit has never consumed a drop of tequila in her life because we all know that if your hangover lasts only for a day, you are an alien. I realised that sometimes it’s ok to judge a book by it’s cover and threw it across the room when she talked about her uber successful career as a television literary agent at twenty-five, which she said left her miserable and “forced” her to reevaluate. White privilege is real dude.
She’s wrong, an expectation hangover is not that bad. If you’re lucky and have a roof over your head, it’s pretty easy compared to you know, twenty-something Syrian refugees who “expected” to be let into Europe but were maced instead.
I can safely say I haven’t worn a bra in like, 26 months. I’ve tried literally every anti-depressant on the market and after a few slightly psychotic allergic reactions, which invited possibly more than one voice in my head, I’m feeling a little more balanced. Though my therapist has also banned me from watching the news because she says I’ve been “negative-filtering” which means that my depressed brain actively looks for disasters and rolls in them like a golden retriever on a pile of leaves. I live in a third-world country so the leaf piles are sky high and everywhere. I’m practically salivating thinking about the headless body they just found 10 minutes from my house. So much strife, so little time.
Based on all this startling evidence, you’re probably thinking; She’s not ready for a huge life change or responsibility just yet. Well…I’m moving to London in January which is right around the corner and I am probably more terrified than I was on the plane in JFK that last day in New York. I’m still fun-employed and the money I have from the writing work and various jobs I had while here is pitiful to say the least. So, I’m pulling a Madonna; leaving everything behind and walking into a city with nothing in my pocket but dreams. There really is no manual for this stuff, the life stuff. You just have to put on a bra and embrace your uncertainty so hard you make it pee a little.
Wish me luck.